Easing the Transition to Care

Steps for Easier Transitions to Child Care

Transitioning to child care is difficult for both the parent and the child. It is a problem shared by most working parents. There are many issues that play into the transition to child care. Here are some things you can do to make the transition to child successful.

  • The first step is finding quality child care. It is important to your child’s optimal development and success in child care that you choose quality care. This will also help you have peace of mind knowing that your child is in a good environment.
  • Communicate with your child’s caregiver. Daily two-way communication with your child’s caregiver will give you a chance to share information about your child and family, and will give the caregiver a chance to tell you about your child’s day. If you child was crying when you left, you can ask how long he cried, how the caregiver responded, and what he did the rest of the day. Many programs provide daily written, as well as verbal communication with parents.
  • Read your child a story or watch a video on day care centers. There are several books available which you can read to your child about attending day care centers, these are story books with pictures that the two of you can share, some of them have flaps your child can lift which makes the whole process fun. It is also worth paying a visit to your local library as you might be able to borrow books. Pick up a video on child day care centers and watch it together explaining if necessary what is happening in the video and how it relates to your child.
  • Allow for warming-in time. When you begin your child in care it is important to give him a chance to get to know his new environment and caregivers. You can visit together at least a couple of times before he begins. You may also want to start your child in care for a shorter period of time, which gradually increases to the full care you need. Once your child begins care, it is important that you also allow enough time so that you don’t have to do a rushed good-bye in the morning. Many parents like to read a book with their child or to sit with their child for a few minutes before saying good-bye in the morning.
  • Say good-bye. Sometimes parents are tempted to sneak out without saying good-bye, hoping that the child can avoid his morning tears and go on happily with his day. In fact, children always discover that the parent is gone and then have to deal with feelings of confusion, as well as feelings of sadness. Letting your child know that you can be trusted to say good-bye when you leave, will ultimately help his successful transition to childcare.
  • Leave your child a memento. Young children love to have reminders of their parents when their parents aren’t there. Leave a picture of you for the caregiver to put on the wall or for your child to keep in his cubby or backpack. An infant or toddler might enjoy a scarf or shirt of yours to keep until you return.
  • Spend special time together. Often working parents have to juggle complicated lives after they pick up children from childcare. This harried pace can interfere with giving children the kind of focused and attentive time they need after a long separation. Take a serious look at your schedule so that you can make spending time with your child after work a priority. Building this kind of close time into your day will help your child feel calmer in childcare and enable you to feel more fulfilled as a parent.
  • Your child’s tears don’t have to bring guilt. When you are separating, it is expected that both you and your child will feel some sadness. Crying is a healthy expression of that sadness. Just because saying good-bye is sad for both of you doesn’t mean that you both won’t enjoy your separate time. Go with a positive attitude because children pick up on their mother’s feelings and if you are showing signs of apprehension then your child will pick up on it. Who knows, your child may surprise you and leave your side the moment you get there.

Most children experience some tears when they begin child care, the thing to look for is how much and how long your child is crying. Prolonged crying may indicate that your child care situation is not a good match for your child or that your child needs more transition time. Normally, it takes a child a few weeks to adapt to child care. A child may cry off and on for an hour or more the first few days and after that, it should decrease. If your child is continuing to cry for long periods of time after the first couple of weeks, it is important to reassess his situation.

For additional information contact Child Connect for Family Success at 517-548-9112.